NATIONAL University drew the best from one of the more familiar names in Philippine sports to frustrate De La Salle, 3-2, and capture the women’s tennis crown of UAAP Season 76 on Saturday at the Olivares College courts in Paranaque City.
Anna Christine Patrimonio, one of two tennis-paying daughters of basketball great Alvin, delivered the victory that mattered most by topping the deciding singles match over Rachelle De Guzman, 6-4, 6-2.
The Lady Bulldogs completed the come-from-behind win after falling in the first tie of the best-of-three finals showdown last week.
NU worked from 1-2 down against the dethroned champion Lady Archers despite wresting the opening singles through Marie Gold Nagret and Anna Vienna Biernes’s triumph over Lynette Palasan and Dasha Camille Bautista in the opening doubles, 6-2, 6-0,
De La Salle bagged the two singles matches — with NU rookie Jzash Eale Canja forced to retire due to cramps late in the second set to hand Ma. Regina Santiago the win, 3-6, 5-4, and Marinel Rudas making it 2-1 for De La Salle the lead with a 6-0, 6-4 victory against Hanna Grace Espinosa in the second singles.
Patrimonio, who was named the tournament’s MVP, had NU’s campaign on her shoulders when, while playing the singles in an adjacent court, learned that her team knotted the count at 2-2 following Kimberly Kaye Uytico and Junnalyn Polito’s conquest of Anne Rene Castillo and Nikkirey Arandia in the second doubles match, 6-3, 6-4.
“After ng last point, wala na akong energy. Parang tulala ako, I didn’t know what to feel,” said Patrimonio, who battled conditioning issues throughout the season after experiencing an assortment of illnesses.
The Lady Bulldogs’ feat allowed NU to sweep the tennis competitions of Season 76 after their men’s squad beat University of the Philippines on Tuesday.
“I think they deserve [the championship]. Kasi mga iyan, sinasabi ko sa kanila [na] kung nagte-training yung kalaban, I make sure na mas nagte-training kami sa kanila,” said NU’s lead assistant coach Bobby Esquivel, who was handed the reins to the squad by head coach Karl Santamaria in his absence due to commitments abroad.
“’Yung preparation namin hindi isang taon e, three years na. ’Yung naramdaman nila noon, nerves yun. Sobrang pressure,” Esquivel recalled of the first tie, where two of the three singles matches resulted in the retirements of Canja and Espinosa. “Good thing nandiyan si Tin [Patrimonio] sa dulo para hilahin [ang team] pataas.”